By Josh Williams, Ph.D.
People are increasingly distracted, tired, frustrated, and stressed out in dealing with COVID. This is particularly true with working or returning to work. It’s hard for people to stay focused on the job when they’re constantly reminded about rising death tolls and dropping stock markets. This has consequences for mental health but also physical safety. People are 60-80% more likely to be injured on the job when they are stressed out (according to the American Psychological Association).
One tool to combat this is cognitive rebooting. Rebooting your thinking is like rebooting your computer when it doesn’t work. Clinical psychologists use this technique to get people to recognize irrational thoughts, challenge those beliefs, and then reconstruct more rational, productive ones moving forward.
Remember the 3 R’s
Re-booting is a cognitive “habit” to recognize, refute, and then reboot irrational or unhelpful thoughts to more productive ones. Step one is to recognize when your thoughts are working against you. This may include thinking, “There’s nothing I can do about this virus. Even healthy people are getting it.” Step two is to refute this. This could include, “I do have control over my own actions to give myself the best chance of staying safe.” The final step is rebooting your thinking. In this case, that could be, “I’m committed to doing everything I can to keep myself and others safe even though I’m nervous about it.”
Sometimes the hardest step is recognizing the counterproductive thought in the first place. As an example, your first thought might be “I’m a terrible parent” if you show up late picking up your kids from school. This may bother you for days. Instead, it’s important to notice what you’re thinking and immediately refute and reboot to something more helpful like, “I need to improve my time management skills so I don’t show up late.” Unlike the negative attribution, this thought is empowering and prompts action.
In the safety world, typical rebooting examples include:
At Propulo, we can help you develop strategies for smart COVID-19 re-entry that is effective now and sustainable in the future. Please visit our website (Propulo Consulting) for more business insights and leadership resources.